If You Do These 5 Things, You’re A Responsible Dog Owner

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Lindsay Butzer, DVM
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Responsible dog owner

Every third Saturday in September, the American Kennel Club (AKC) hosts Responsible Dog Ownership Day with a series of nationwide events and promotions to help educate dog owners on important topics like microchipping, nutrition, training, and regular vet visits.
Whether you’re a first-time puppy parent or a seasoned dog owner, this holiday is a perfect time to learn, revisit, and renew your dog care know-how. To get started, see how many boxes you can tick on our Responsible Dog Ownership Day checklist.

5 Signs You’re A Responsible Dog Owner

1. You take your dog for annual wellness checkups.
Does your vet only get to see your dog when they’re not feeling well? Or do you remember to schedule an annual wellness checkup around the same time each year? Wellness checkups have numerous benefits for your dog’s health. Your vet will check your dog’s vitals, look for early signs of disease, renew prescriptions, and answer any questions you might have. They may also recommend a full blood panel, especially for senior dogs. It’s also a great time to find out if your dog is at a healthy weight, needs any vaccines, or could use a dental cleaning.

2. You have an at-home dog care routine.
Everyone’s routine looks a little different, and you might not get everything done on busier days. But for the most part, a responsible dog parent will keep up with day-to-day tasks like brushing their dog’s teeth, washing food and water bowls, keeping nails trimmed, and keeping their dog’s coat clean and well-groomed. Responsible dog owners know it’s okay to ask for help if you’re struggling with keeping up. Your vet or groomer can cut your dog’s nails, and you can use water additives and dental gels if you struggle with daily brushing.

3. You clean up after your dog.
Whether it’s a short walk around the block or a weekend camping trip, you know it’s important to leave the earth as you found it when you’re out with your dog. That means keeping your dog from chasing wildlife, not allowing them to dig up flowerbeds or otherwise disrupt natural scenery, and maybe most importantly, picking up their poop. Dog poop, even when it comes from a healthy dog, is a serious environmental contaminant that spreads disease and pollutes local bodies of water.

4. You know that mental health matters for dogs too.
Dogs provide mental and emotional health benefits for their humans, but they too can suffer from stress and anxiety. Responsible dog owners adjust their training goals, expectations, and boundaries accordingly. Some dogs benefit from a lot of socializing, others take longer to warm up to new people and hate going to dog parks - and that’s okay too. Some dogs are great candidates for earning their Canine Good Citizen award, others love mental stimulation from puzzle toys, nose work, trick training, or agility. What matters most is keeping your dog active and engaged in a way that works for them.

5. You never stop learning.
In the past decade alone, researchers, vets, and other dog professionals have learned a lot about our dog’s health and wellness. New discoveries and solutions are emerging every year, and outdated ideas are constantly being debunked and reimagined. By staying in the know, you can give your dog the very best. Online resources like the PetMeds® free Pet Health Center are a great place to start.